Ex-con tells judge he robbed bank to get sent back to prison

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An ex-convict who robbed a bank hoping he'd be sent back to prison told an Indiana judge he wanted to plead guilty only if he received the maximum 8-year sentence.

David Potchen, 53, said he was desperate after losing his $11-an-hour job and the room at a Gary motel where he was living, The Post-Tribune reported. He admitted handing a teller a note asking for $5 and $10 bills at a bank in Merrillville in June.

"Once I ran out of money, I couldn't bear the thought of losing everything again," Potchen, a welder with 20 years of experience, told the judge Wednesday. "I went inside, took the money, sat on the curb and waited for them (police) to come."

Potchen had served a sentence in connection with a 2001 bank robbery in Hammond.

Lake County Judge Clarence Murray said he found it disturbing that someone would want to serve the maximum sentence. He asked Potchen if he'd tried to get assistance from a charity or other program. Potchen said no nearby employers would hire him because of his criminal history, and that he said he decided to rob the bank after spending a night in the woods.

"I hope to God someone reads about this and offers some help to you," Murray said. "You're not a throwaway, Mr. Potchen. You have value, sir. I'm always optimistic and hopeful that there are still good people out there who believe freedom is important."

Potchen's defense attorney, Stephen Scheele, said opting for the maximum sentence is Potchen's "social welfare safety net." Scheele said Potchen wants to find a job.

"If you could put David on any sort of a job, he'll do it," Scheele said.

The judge set a status hearing in the case for March 18.

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